Sunday, October 30, 2005

Joy in the Details

For six and a half weeks now, I have spent the majority of each day staring at my son, Ellis. It's amazing how busy this keeps me...watching his funny expressions, inspecting his baby fingers and toes, going to great lengths to get a smile or squeal. I love that each day is so much the same in terms of a schedule and yet full of new changes and developments with Ellis. He is a feisty joy - all his blood curdling screams are forgotten with one glimpse of a grin. (We are having some technical difficulties posting new photos on the blog, but know that we are working to fix the problem asap!!)

Ellis is up to about 14 pounds we think, and my arms and back can certainly attest to his rapid growth. We like to consider it another sign of his advanced development. :D He's slowly losing his beautiful baby hair and I estimate we'll have a little baldy by Christmastime. Each day he looks like someone else - Dad, then Nathan, then Chris, then me... ah, the hours we spend speculating! He still loves being outside and has warmed up to the baby bjorn carrier so we can enjoy longer walks together - this fall has been so gorgeous, it's been awesome to introduce Ellis to his new neighborhood on these sunshiney afternoons in the woods. He also loves mornings, giving us happy, squealy faces while we clutch our coffee and grin right back. As Charis mentioned, he loves sleeping but hates falling asleep, usually ending each sleep fight with one final loud cry. Out with a bang.

My life these days is this child, and I could think of no place more perfect than the farm to be spending this time. It's quiet, peaceful, beautiful, home. I feel so lucky to be there.

We make it into the cities every couple of weeks or so, leaving me to feel somewhat disconnected from much of our greater e-mail/blog community. Hoping to have internet at the farm soon, though! I have, however, found peace in the beauty of being internet, very little phone time, and neighbors a good walk's distance. It's been a great respite from the city life I hadn't realized was exhausting me so much. I do miss some aspects (people, restaurants, grocery stores!), so I'm happy to have our bi-weekly visits scheduled. January will come too quickly, taking me back to work two days a week, but giving Ellis good time being babysat by Grandma Jeannine. What a lucky little rascal!

I have little to report other than that parenthood is remarkable. Chris is a beautiful father, and I am loving the natural, incredible bond of motherhood. Ellis is our life and joy. We are blessed.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Canning Inventory, etc.

Just for shits and giggles, I'm recording what we canned this year. Apologies to those of you who don't find bread and butter pickle counting simply breathtaking:

30 jars of pickles - 25 quarts (half bread and butter/sweet and half dill) and 5 pints (baby dills)
4 quarts of spicy dilly beans
2 quarts and 22 pints of apple-ginger and apple-plum butter
9 quarts of stewed tomatoes
12 quarts and 12 pints of salsa
4 quarts of pickled banana peppers
18 quarts of applesauce (almost all gone at this writing)
Oh yes, and a quart and a pint of sundried tomatoes and various batches of dried apples.

I think that's it!

My Nordic blood loves the cold here. I thought I'd suffer through the winters in the heartland, but as it turns out, the summers are harder on my constitutuion. The frosty mornings make me gleeful. I skip down to the barn in my little plastic gardening clogs and no hat most mornings. It's funny what farm life does to a person. For another example, my tweezers. I once used my tweezers to shape my eyebrows. I now use my tweezers to pull giant ticks out of my horses' hides (I know you're supposed to burn them out with a match ... now). Here's a typical morning for me: wake up with the sun (usually between 6 and 7), feed the cats, feed the horses, stoke or start the fire, depending on how far Jay got, wash up any straggler dishes from the night before, sweep the first floor (you would not believe how farm dirt and junk piles up every day - enough to make a Scandinavian compulsive), get some breakfast together, love on Ellis while he plays and smiles and coos, love on Ellis some more and walk and sway while he fights sleep (Ellis does not believe that babies should have to fall asleep. He's called his lawyer. He's thinking of starting a union), work a horse or two, clean some stalls, read (East of Eden right now. Brilliant. I'm on a real reading bender - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Light in August and 50 Acres and a Poodle are others I've recently enjoyed; Julianne and Amy, you would especially appreciate the last one), lunch, chores, dinner with wine, hot tub and bed - sometimes a movie if we can keep our eyes open long enough.

We'll be in Portland after Christmas - stay tuned for more info!

As per usual, my time is up. GREAT to hear from you, Justin!

Love and Jack Frost magic to all,


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Invasion. Alternate title: They're BAAAAAAAAAAACK!

If you ever come and visit us in mid-October in the middle of an Indian summer and see the windows coming alive, red and writhing, just know you've entered what we refer to as LADY BEETLE HELL. Ah, yes, the Asian Lady Beetle. Not nearly as cute or as harmless as her little sister the common lady bug. These girls are EVERYWHERE right now, and they can bite - apparently because they're so hungry this time of year, what with getting prepared to hibernate (in our walls, they hope) and all. They can make a normally sane (or reasonably sane) person start to do maniacal things with a vacuum cleaner and a caulk gun. And they're smelly. And they COVER THE HOUSE. One need only stand on our deck in the afternoon to be covered with them, and to blanch at the tinny sounds of the ladies' shells hitting the aluminum siding. ICCCCCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

This and the fly population overload are two of the downsides of an otherwise unbelievable fall season - crisp like braeburn apples and sunny-bright with a recent full moon to light our path at night and cast shadows on our hot-tubbin bods.

I've been reading Faulkner for the first time in my life (how did I ever get my English degree?), enjoying not having a "real" job since I was 14 (not counting moves and car accidents). I get to do my farm chores and play with baby Ellis and do my morning sweeping and go for walks as my job right now, and I hope to never have to put on another pair of pantyhose again, even if I do end up working in the cities in the future.

Ellis does NOT LIKE TO GO TO SLEEP. I mean, he does sleep, and when he does, he's out cold - he just doesn't like the getting there part. I blame this on him wanting to hang out with his homegirl Auntie Charis and not miss a minute of the witty repartee that fills the farm house (we wish). But seriously, Ellis is becoming quite the grinnin' little character. He's punching and kicking karate-style these days, and his baby mullet will soon be the envy of all the rednecks out here. He's growing REALLY FAST - his onesie-jammies are starting to get a little snug in the feet - and the baby swing that Greg and Emily loaned us seems to release a baby narcotic when activated, because he LOVES IT!

The horses are great - I'm riding Gideon regularly on the trails and got B to take a picture of us today in our full saddled up glory - hopefully to be posted soon.

Alright, my time's up on the Colfax library computer, as per usual. Everyone here is fine - how 'bout you?

Love and chewy-tart caramel apples to all...


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh, deer

File this one in the "only in the backwoods" category: now some days when Jay is biking home, he turns on to 810th from S and a FAWN leaps out of the bushes and CHASES HIM UP THE ROAD. A BABY DEER. I guess he was orphaned and hooked himself on to the neighbors' cows and now he's terrorizing the streets.

We had Ilene and Sherri, our new nabes, over for tea yesterday, and Ilene brought tons of tiny black and white photos of our farm - from when she lived there in the 40s! The house was very simple looking and there was very little vegetation at the time - a far cry from the lushness (some may say "overgrowth") we've got going on now. Most of the people around us are related somehow - and have been here since the early 1900s in many cases. They look at us as sort of exotic, or possibly oddities, I think. They can't imagine why we would move to a farm in the middle of nowhere, and the brothers are always asking whether we think they're rednecks. In a worried tone. It's kind of funny, really. Oh, and I found out about the guy who died from pitchfork wounds on our land - his horses kept on getting loose, and the guy who owned our place at the time told him that the next time they got out, he'd lock him up in the barn and keep them, and sure enough it happened again and the owner came to get them in the middle of the night and the owner of our farm came out with a pitchfork and I'm sure you can only imagine the rest. It really is perfect for Halloween I think - the legend of the ghost with four prong-holes in his gut.

Speaking of Halloween, we've carved a mess of pumpkins with the help of our cousins (my carving was of Ellis crying), pumpkins that are nearly too big to pull out of the garden and up to the house! Sherri tells us that Halloween doesn't bring too many kids around, but Bex and I are thinking we need to get a bag of candy just in case. A kind we like. Maybe Almond Joy.

Chris' friend Erick was here last week helping us with getting a little room set up in the garage for Jay's practice area and a workshop. They also got a little woodstove for heat, and Erick set up the electricity. Unfortunately an ailing water heater ate up some of the garage time and the boys had to get and install a new one.

Nights are cooler now and the stars peek through the tree branches hanging over the hot tub. The horses are full of themselves in the crisp air. Bex has her third baby shower in the cities this weekend, and Ellis will be the star of the show. It is really something to watch a baby grow like this - to see him begin to respond to us, to smile a bit and start to become more aware of his chubby, froggy little body. He's a real character, and very intense. Takes after his auntie, I guess. We're eating the fruits of our summer labor and dipping into the canned goods. Don't be surprised if when you visit you get bacon and canned tomatoes. I think we've got about 50 or 60 jars of this and that in our basement.

Corrie Jackson visits us in November, and so do my parents' good friends (and my godparents) Carl and Marcia Blomgren, who built their log cabin in the woods on Vashon Island in Washington and serve as a major inspiration to us. This is very exciting. Then Jay and I go to Portland after Christmas. Good times, good friends.

We continue to think about how we can live more sustainably, with less waste and more efficiency.

Well, the library here in Colfax only gives me an hour on the computer, so I'm signing off for now.

Love and ginormous orange jack-o-lanterns to all...


Thursday, October 06, 2005

The three religions in Wisconsin

They are: Lutheran, deer hunting, and the Green Bay Packers.

We had a one-eyed raccoon hunter come by our place yesterday to ask whether, if his dogs were to tree a raccoon on our land, he could shoot it out of the tree. Also, this morning my neighbor Ilene (who is around 90 years old, I think) called because there was a strange horse in her yard when she woke up and she wondered if one of mine was missing. Really, could this happen anywhere but in Dunn County, WI? I'm sure there are other places, but sometimes it's like I'm taking crazy redneck pills and I ain't never gonna wake up from this country livin' dream.

The Beyrers invited us over for Sunday dinner,which was great fun - all the men in their nature-themed oxford shirts (turkeys, deer - all of the hunted)and the ladies in their sunday best. They were making fun of themselves for apparently stopping and pulling a freshly hit deer off the road to use for meat. It was a clamorous culture clash, but lively and silly and fun with TONS of midwest food - meatballs, ham, hotdish, jello squares. We're realizing how different we are from the neighbors, but they're pretty open to our ideas - especially the wood-fired hot tub, which intrigues them to no end (at one point, the conversation actually centered on whether a person could actually shoot a deer from our hot tub. Yes, it was determined. I think they want to give it a try). I appreciate that they're willing to give these crazy city-folk hippie types a chance. B and I are having Sherri and Ilene over for tea next week.

I found a secret trail as I rode Colby today - winding down a path through the golden-red trees and a hidden meadow to a road I didn't recognize.

Ellis peed on me this morning - an initiation ceremony, I think.

Okay, I have to get off this public computer now; kids are waiting. More to come...

Love and crimson tree leaves to all,